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Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas

This will probably be the last post before Christmas, so here's wishing you all the best this holiday season!

Starting tomorrow, the ESO is having a Mozart Sale - the first three concerts of 2009 (on January 9, 10 & 14, all featuring a Mozart work of some kind) will be on sale until December 24. All tickets will be priced at $25 if purchased online. It's a great way to share the ESO with friends and family that might never have been to the symphony and it's our way of helping you have a happy New Year! All the details you should know are posted on our website here.


Handel's Messiah

I was looking for this audio clip the other day and couldn't find it, but fortunately Drew McManus posted it over at his blog - it's well worth a listen.

Handel's Messiah, December 19 & 20 at 7:30 pm - almost sold out, so if you want to go, better call the box office now (780-428-1414).


Thursday, December 18, 2008

We listened to it twice 'cause the DJ was asleep

CBC's revamped Radio 2 has been running for just over 3 months now, and Russell Smith at The Globe and Mail has some interesting commentary about why the change hasn't increased listenership, at least, so far. (The article states that the number of people listening is about the same as before, but the market share is down - in other words, the overall market is growing, but Radio 2's isn't.)  Granted, it's still early to make any kind of final judgement, and CBC claims that the dip in market share is all part of the plan.  I've been listening to Tom Allen's radio show in the morning, and I'd have to agree with Liz Withey - there's a definite Sarah slant.  And yes, Feist, and a whole lotta Ron Sexsmith. Which is all fine, but it's all kind of... the same.  Nothing I haven't heard before.

The interesting bit is that Radio 1's ratings are up quite a bit over last year.  Are former Radio 2 listeners moving over to Radio 1 to get their CBC fix?


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

noon-hour concert

This Friday the Christmas Bureau presents a noon-hour concert at the Winspear Centre featuring local choirs.  Admission is free, but it is a fundraiser, so donations will be accepted by the Christmas Bureau at the Winspear from 11:15 AM to 2:00 PM. It's a popular event, so arrive early!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Take your turn, take a ride on the merry-go-round in an inhuman race

The latest jobs to be taken over by robots are the lead roles in the Phantom of the Opera, according to Engadget, which says "The lead bots (named Thomas and Janet) can both walk, and have silicon facial "muscles" that help them mimic human expressions and mouth movements."

And because George Lucas hasn't made quite enough money from Star Wars yet, it's being staged as a musical.  This raises many questions - one being, will there be an introspective third act solo for Chewbacca? (Other than Han Solo, ha ha ha.) Perhaps the Taiwanese creators of the Phantom of the Opera robots could adapt them for the roles of C3PO and R2D2. "The Phantom Menace of the Opera" - just thought of that. And I'm going to suggest that since James Earl Jones is already a broadway veteran that he should reprise his role as (the voice of) Darth Vader, singing "Dooooooo not un-der-est-i-mate the pow-er of the dark siiiiiiiiiiide!"


Tribute concert at the U of A

Tonight the University of Alberta honours organ composer, teacher and designer Gerhard Krapf with a concert at Convocation Hall. Expressnews has a short but interesting article about his life here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mass Intelligence

I'm sure nearly every orchestra goes through a bit of handwringing around this time of year as details for the next year's concert season coalesce. Schedules must be worked out for conductors and soloists, programming choices made, pricing charts, sales projections and budgets are poured over; in the end, every orchestra tries to strike that balance between the artistic and the economic considerations. It's a delicate balance - of course, everyone would be thrilled to see every concert sell out, but there are also those who would love to do a Stockhausen festival, which, in many markets, would not cover its own costs, whether it's artistically brilliant or not.

And so, as sales reports for pops concerts and new music concerts and Beethoven's 5th and christmas concerts and kids concerts are sifted and compared, inevitably we begin to seek out where our culture is heading, and what they want from their local arts organizations (and what they will buy). All this to say, I read a pretty interesting article from Intelligent Life magazine entitled The Age of Mass Intelligence which postulates that, in spite of the general bemoaning of the dumbing down of society, more people than ever are taking in arts and culture (yes, even ordinary people). Of course, I've also just started reading Mark Bauerlein's book "The Dumbest Generation" which will provide an interesting counterpoint, I'm sure.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Who's having the Baconator?

As the events in Ottawa have unfolded over the last week, I've been thinking about how to approach the subject on this blog. I've been reading a lot of comments on news articles that essentially say "How can this happen? It's not fair for the losing parties to form a coalition! It's not democratic!"

My response to that is an analogy.

Five people are on a road trip, let's say, from Edmonton to Calgary.  The car is approaching Red Deer, and it's lunch time, so discussion about where to eat results.  The driver and the passenger in the front seat declare that everyone is going to eat at McDonald's.  There is a chorus of complaints from the back - one person wants to eat at Wendy's, another at Tim Horton's, and the last person in the car states "I don't care where we eat, as long as it's NOT McDonald's."

I'm sure many people have been in this exact situation.  So how does it usually turn out?  Well, two of the people in the back seat realize that they can both get what they want. It so happens that there is a Wendy's and a Tim Horton's that are connected in Red Deer, and the third person in the back agrees that this option is much better than McDonald's. It's now a vote of 3 to 2 for Wendy's/Tim Horton's. Sounds pretty democratic to me.

Of course, if we apply the analogy to Canadian politics, it seems more than likely that the driver is going to pull over, get out of the car and refuse to continue unless he gets what he wants.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Inspired by the sound of the beer-drinking Olympic crowds... and Carmen.

Via wired:
Google is putting together a YouTube Symphony Orchestra that will take to the Carnegie Hall stage in five months to perform -- for the first time together -- Chinese composer Tan Dun's Internet Symphony No. 1, Eroica. Classical and non-conventional musicians can submit YouTube videos of themselves playing Tan's composition and a piece of standard repertoire in order to get into the orchestra. Judging will be done by a panel of experts appointed by Google and by the YouTube community.
Tan Dun has written the piece in a "modular" way so that the chosen musicians' audition videos can be assembled into a single Youtube performance.  (Kind of like Beaker's 9th that I linked to in the last post.)  "In composing the piece, he says, he was inspired by the sound of the beer-drinking Olympic crowds, Beethoven's Third Symphony, elements of Tchaikovsky and the opera Carmen." 

Here's an introduction from the composer himself:

Probably the best thing to do is check out the youtube channel.

Greg Sandow weighs in with an opinion here.


Beaker's 9th

Beaker has always been my favourite muppet, so when I came across this, I just had to share...